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As the title says, I'm wondering if the archers are worth it when considering the other ranged options for the empire?
I have little fighting experience but I'm specifically wondering if having the scout rule for huntsmen is worth the extra 10-20 points?
Like anything else, it depends on what you do with the unit. Tactics determine the true value of a unit.... Personally, I don't use archers or huntsmen, because my generic battle plan doesn't require what they offer (which is being able to move and shoot, plus scout for the huntsmen). Since I don't need those abilities, it makes more sense for me to go for higher strength shooting. YMMV, depending on how you intend to use them.
IG since 1999 __ DA since 2002 __ Tau since 2005 __ SoB since 2007
Brets 1997-1999 __ TK since 2009 __ Empire since 2010
As Marnepup says, it's down to personal taste. Personally, i like having skirmisher missile unit handy in my armies (provided huntsmen still are skirmishers, im not sure if the rules for empire have changed since i last played with them). Coming from a dedicated WoC player, both mobility and ballistic expertise in one unit can be a godsend.
Provided they are still skirmishers, all opposing shooting weapons against them receive -1 to hit (skirmishers count as individual models), dont require all those bothersome unit maneuverers and don't have to turn to see their targets. The best thing is, from personal experience against dryads, fast cavalry are useless when they try running around in circles against skirmishers, since their line of sight is not restricted.
All in all, they are worth getting personally, but once again, it's all down to your gaming style.
"We have done the impossible, and that makes us mighty." Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds, Firefly
While I don't take Huntsmen any more (mainly because they no longer get longbows like in 6th edition), Archers make an excellent screening unit, particularily as a detachment. While some people use militia for that, I like archers because they block more line of sight from your enemy, they are harder to shoot down, and they can shoot. They are the only core unit that can move and shoot, and being able to march and shoot is awesome. However, their main task is to lure your enemies into badly positioned charges so you can counter-charge. The fact that they are capable of shooting means your opponent is less likely to ignore them.
Also: if you can give them Poisoned Attacks in any way, they are even more awesome. One game I played against Warriors of Chaos, first turn of the game I parked 10 Archers in a Necrotic Ooze river and fired at a unit of 10 Maurader Horsemen with flails, and killed half of them. They also took all but the last wound of a Hellcannon before being slain.
A unit of Huntsmen is good for scouting into buildings to hold it until a bigger unit arrives. Due to being Steadfast in a building, a unit can generally hold until someone else gets there. Just make sure your General or BSB is in range of the building.
The careful application of terror is a form of communication in itself - Zutta Law #4.